However, with everyone working in different ways and so many systems available, tweaks may still need to be made to make advisers universally happy.
This week, Mortgage Solutions is asking: If you were in a lender’s shoes for the day, what changes would you make?
The one thing I would focus on would be customer relationship management (CRM) integrations. The way we work in this day and age is embarrassing, with some lenders still faxing information.
In an era of big data, Open Banking and digital platforms it has to be the future for our industry. As brokers, we originate the loans and we want to place the right client with the right lender – after all that is our job.
If we had two-way integrations, we could maximise our time with clients giving them the advice they deserve as opposed to being clogged up chasing cases or having a mountain of paperwork to plough through.
We are probably no different to most good brokers, in that we get this information upfront from the client, but it is then a very manual and often painful process getting the information to the lender which is prone to errors on all sides.
Lenders have been resistant to this for a very long time and I understand why. If it was so slick to come through a broker, what would be the future of many high street branches?
However, with so much business now coming via brokers, surely it makes sense to invest in your biggest partner.
I would design systems with broker input from the beginning. It’s nice to design a system and tweak it afterwards but the input should have been there already, and we could come up with something that works from the start.
Brokers beta test systems not because we have the time to do it but because we need it to work efficiently.
Also, I would improve communication chains. I appreciate there are hundreds or thousands of applications, but sometimes we have to go through layers of people before we speak to someone who is actually dealing with the case.
Lenders have average timeframes from application to offer but it doesn’t always work like that. Brokers never have a clear idea of how long a case has to go through underwriting or when information will be looked at.
We might send paperwork but there isn’t always a reply to say it has been received or when it will be looked at.
Clients are under the impression that as soon as they send something, it will be handled but I have to tell them it is more likely to be three working days or longer to action it.
Also, some systems make it so application files can’t be printed from the website which doesn’t help with compliance, so I would change that.
Once the application is gone, we have no way of referring to it and sometimes errors aren’t flagged up until later in the process. Personally, I take screenshots of applications, but that takes extra time.
I would focus on emphasising the importance of communicating fully with brokers to arrive at the best possible underwriting decision.
At a time when there have been many positive changes to underwriting criteria as a way of lenders attracting more business, it is important to have a direct line of communication between brokers and underwriters to allow cases to be underwritten properly.
Whether this is complex income, an unusual situation, or something the lender is unsure about on a case, a conversation between the broker and underwriter can often solve the issue quickly.
Brokers always find it reassuring when an underwriter picks up the phone to advise where an application is at currently and how both the lender and broker can work together to push it forward.
Often the underwriter may need to clarify something in relation to expenses or income, especially if complex income such as self-employed income or a commission-based structure.
This can often give the underwriter much more comfort and a deeper understanding of the client and their situation compared to using a notes function, resulting in a more accurate and timely processing of the case.